Editor's Note: Brian D. McLaren is author of "Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World" (Jericho Books/Hachette Book Group).
By Brian McLaren, Special to CNN
I was raised as an evangelical Christian in America, and any discussion of Christian-Jewish-Muslim relations around the world must include the phenomenon of American Islamophobia, for which large sectors of evangelical Christianity in America serve as a greenhouse.
At a time when U.S. embassies are being attacked and when people are getting killed over an offensive, adolescent and puerile film targeting Islam - beyond pathetic in its tawdriness – we must begin to own up to the reality of evangelical Islamaphobia.
Many of my own relatives receive and forward pious-sounding and alarm-bell-ringing e-mails that trumpet (IN LOTS OF CAPITAL LETTERS WITH EXCLAMATION POINTS!) the evils of Islam, that call their fellow evangelicals and charismatics to prayer and “spiritual warfare” against those alleged evils, and that often - truth be told - contain lots of downright lies.
For example, one recent e-mail claimed “Egyptian Christians in Grave Danger as Muslim Brotherhood Crucifies Opponents." Of course, that claim has been thoroughly debunked, but the sender’s website still (as of Friday) claims that the Muslim Brotherhood has “crucified those opposing" Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy "naked on trees in front of the presidential palace while abusing others.”
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Many sincere and good-hearted evangelicals have never yet had a real Muslim friend, and now they probably never will because their minds have been so prejudiced by Islamophobic broadcasts on so-called Christian television and radio.
Janet Parshall, for example, a popular talk show host on the Moody Radio Network, frequently hosts Walid Shoebat, a Muslim-evangelical convert whose anti-Muslim claims, along with claims about his own biography, are frequently questioned. John Hagee, a popular televangelist, also hosts Shoebat as an expert on Islam, as does the 700 Club.
Many Christian bookstores that (used to) sell my books, still sell books such as Paul Sperry’s "Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington" (Thomas Nelson, 2008). In so doing, they fuel conspiracy theories such as the ones U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minnesota, promoted earlier this year.
In recent days, we’ve seen how irresponsible Muslim media outlets used the tawdry 13-minute video created by a tiny handful of fringe Christian extremists to create a disgusting caricature of all Christians - and all Americans - in Muslim minds. But too few Americans realize how frequently American Christian media personalities in the U.S. similarly prejudice their hearers’ minds with mirror-image stereotypes of Muslims.
Ambassador's killing shines light on Muslim sensitivities around Prophet Mohammed
Meanwhile, many who are pastors and leaders in evangelicalism hide their heads in the current issue of Christianity Today or World Magazine, acting as if the kinds of people who host Islamophobic sentiments swim in a tiny sidestream, not in the mainstream, of our common heritage. I wish that were true.
The events of this past week, if we let them, could mark a turning point - a hitting bottom, if you will - in the complicity of evangelicalism in Islamophobia. If enough evangelicals watch or try to watch the film trailer that has sparked such outrage in the Middle East, they may move beyond the tipping point.
I tried to watch it, but I couldn’t make it halfway to the 13-minute mark. Everything about it was tawdry, pathetic, even pornographic. All but the most fundamentalist believers from my evangelical Christian tribe who watch that video will be appalled and ashamed to be associated with it.
It is hate speech. It is no different from the anti-Semitic garbage that has been all too common in Western Christian history. It is sub-Christian - beneath the dignity of anyone with a functioning moral compass.
Islamophobic evangelical Christians - and the neo-conservative Catholics and even some Jewish folks who are their unlikely political bedfellows of late - must choose.
Will they press on in their current path, letting Islamophobia spread even further amongst them? Or will they stop, rethink and seek to a more charitable approach to our Muslim neighbors? Will they realize that evangelical religious identity is under assault, not by Shariah law, not by the liberal media, not by secular humanism from the outside, but by forces within the evangelical community that infect that religious identity with hostility?
If I could get one message through to my evangelical friends, it would be this: The greatest threat to evangelicalism is evangelicals who tolerate hate and who promote hate camouflaged as piety.
No one can serve two masters. You can’t serve God and greed, nor can you serve God and fear, nor God and hate.
The broad highway of us-them thinking and the offense-outrage-revenge reaction cycle leads to self-destruction. There is a better way, the way of Christ who, when reviled, did not revile in return, who when insulted, did not insult in return, and who taught his followers to love even those who define themselves as enemies.
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Yes, “they” – the tiny minority of Muslims who turn piety into violence – have big problems of their own. But the way of Christ requires all who claim to be Christians to examine our own eyes for planks before trying to perform first aid on the eyes of others. We must admit that we have our own tiny minority whose message and methods we have not firmly, unitedly and publicly repudiated and rejected.
To choose the way of Christ is not appeasement. It is not being a “sympathizer.”
The way of Christ is a gentle strength that transcends the vicious cycles of offense-outrage-revenge.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Brian D. McLaren.
A god, all-knowing and all-powerful (and loving to boot!... golly!) makes man.
The god is displeased with man. It does not matter why... what matters is that an all-powerful god (who could have made man ANY way he wanted) AND an ALL-KNOWING god (who could easily forsee exactly how man would turn out... in every way) would screw up and then get violently angry and THEN blame all his anger on his own creation. THIS is the sign of a sociopath. If all you had to do to end ALL misery was lift your little finger, you'd do it... unless you were a sociopath. The only way out for fundamentalists to brainwash their minions into believing such a god is possible (loving, all-powerful, all-knowing) is by telling them not to question or doubt what the simplistic dogma that only a fool could believe OR they will face eternal torment at the hands of this LOVING god. Golly. No thanks. The fundamentalist god is not possible... therefore fundamentalist doctrine is not true.
I suggest that any Fundamentalist 'Patriotic Christians' who want to de-program themselves should begin by watching news channels that do not advertise their upcoming news shows latest outrage. Just sit back for a moment and look at what news shows with that message are doing: they are stirring up the outrage-revenge loop that gives them high ratings. They grossly exaggerate and some (Len Beck) go beyond that and carefully fabricate nonsense that seems reasonable. The outrage you feel keeps you from being rational enough to question how much these 'experts' are exaggerating facts. So start by switching to a moderate news station.
Muslims need to stop the Christophobia by ceasing the car bombing of churches , machinegun massacres of Chritians and stop the beheadings of people who convert from Islam to Christianity, or Chritians that refuse to convert to Islam . Al Qeada, Boko Haram , and Hezbolloh and Hamas kill christians , and Obama is silent . The term Islamophobia was created by the Islamists to shame the west into conceding that any critisism of CAIR and ISNA was a form of hate , old fasioned shame and blame tactics . It isnt Islamophobia if Muslims are really trying to kill you .
Typical leftist, "if we're nice to them, they'll be nice to us". Obama has been a Muslim sympathizer since day one yet the Muslims still attack our embassies, kidnap western tourists and aid workers, kill our citizens, and recently tried to blow up Times Square and the Federal Reserve. Time for a good swift kick in the pants to get their attention that we mean business.
If you're sick and tired of Obama's lyin, vote for Romney/Ryan.
How'd that work out for you?
Not that it matters, but what did you prefer about Mutt's lying? His message that there are two kinds of Uhmurikins: one that does all the work and those that mooch off of yer taxes by collecting 'undeserved' (cuz of course... they're ALL bums) gubmint welfare? Mitt was just copying the Reagan's tactic of stirring up voters by claiming that Welfare Queens were going to destroy America. Ask yourself this next time: how many 'Welfare Queens' have you personally met? Most voters are smart enough to realize that politicians grossly exaggerate problems to manipulate voters feelings. In this case, they played upon your racist beliefs... you were a tool.
If Islam would stop its phobia of Christianity by trying to squelch it and kill the "infidels", then maybe Christians should not even think of Islam, but sadly that will never be the case. Islam wants total control and anyone or any religion that gets in the way, will be destroyed.
Also, who gave this reporter authority to tell Christianity what to do in the first place? Maybe they should focus more on the religion that is really causing the violence and uproar in our world and tell them what to do, if they have the guts.
I have friends in England whose local schools can't carry the Three Little Pigs because it's offensive to Muslims. The informational police dog posters had to be taken down, too, because the dog also was offensive. Life does change when conservative groups build mass and power. That's just the reality.
No one falls for this naive, foolish, propaganda anymore. A lot has changed in the last eleven years. People have become more informed as to the nature, beliefs, and history of Islam. Sadly it's not a pretty picture.
Ths Bible is pretty violent as well, and, in the past was used to justify violence.
It's not the religion, it's how it's applied.
How are American muslims applying the koran to THEIR lives. That's the only question.
This author is a tool for Islam.
Sad that CNN is still touting this article. I am sure the 4 Americans that were killed my Islamic terrorists in Libya would disagree with it... If they could...
What do American muslims have to do with what happened in Libya? Isn't that rather like blaming the little christian old lady across the street for the Inquisition?
THIS IS PERFECT EXAMPLE WHY RELIGION HAS NO BUSINESS IN POLITICS.
FOR IF NOT FOR RELIGION, HATE AND BLOOD-SHARE WOULD NOT EXISTS!
Well before Jesus walked the earth, people were killing each other for no good reason. So Christianity is not to blame; rather, blame it on the human condition.
Who are you kidding. Don't be so naive.
Toward the end of the article, the author says that there is this "tiny" group of mislead and violent Muslims. The author goes on to suggest that having such a tiny group is no different than what Christians have - a group of misguided, overzealous Christians. But the author is wrong and underestimates the the size and strength of the Muslims engaed in violence. Let me explain. Currently, in addition to the USA their multiple countries that use their military to openly fight Muslim extremists around the world to protect their country. However, there is not one country in the world that uses its military to openly fight and protect against a tiny group of violent Christians. So to me, the size and strength of the violent Muslims stands in stark contrast to so-called violent Christians. The biggest threat our country faces comes from violent Muslims, even though there are some Christians that misbehave. All are sinners. But, it is just plain wrong for the author to try to suggest that Christians and Muslims each have their own "tiny" group of violent misfits.
It's a challenging time for our nation regarding its' guarantee of freedom of religion. I live in a predominantly Mormon part of the country. Many aspects of Mormons, many of whom are my friends, are wonderful. It's the tenets and claims of Mormonism I have a problem with. Get under the surface of Mormonism...it's history, the foundation stones of this faith, and the requirements that go along with joining and being a part of it, and it's a whole different story. The same can be said for Islam. I'm sure there are many wonderful Muslim people, but look at the history and tenets of this religion and it's a different story. You don't have to look far.....Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan. I'm afraid Brian McClaren needs to stop functioning in denial....liberal democratic tolerance and political correctness. Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, didn't back down from speaking the truth, making many people furious, resulting in his death by crucifiction, but as is always the case in God's economy, that's not the end of the story. Ask your Muslim friends what will happen to their children should they decide to leave Islam, say, for Judaism, Christianity, Mormonism...we've all heard of what price can be exacted for that decision but the Brian McClarens of our country don't talk about that.
You might as well argue that it's time for people to be smarter...such a request is equally pointless. People of different belief systems, be they Democrat and Republican or Christian and Muslim should be free to criticize one another. Yes, they're stupid about how they go about it, and ignorant of the other's views. But all belief systems have potential dangers, and I'd rather see them open to criticism than protected by some imaginary line that protects religious beliefs from any other beliefs. If you want the criticisms to be of a higher caliber, invest more in quality education that will introduce critical analysis skills early on. For that, post on an education blog.
It's not a phobia when it's true and based on fact...all that murder and destruction in the name of Islam isn't a figment of our imagination is it?
it is a phobia. now, don't forget to hide from them bad, bad muslims
Are all Muslims bad? How bad
People are still individuals.
However, Islamic doctrine is completely contrary to the democratic principles that we in the United States have depended on since its founding. The adults are teaching their children to hate Jews, Christians, and any other infidels. They have no intention of adopting anything resembling our Bill of Rights or or system in which the people govern themselves.
And it's not just the doctrine itself. Muslims have been implementing their doctrine. It's real, not just a fairy tale. If you search "Muslim violence" on the web, there are a zillion pages of examples of Muslim violence.
Worst of all, I think, is their doctrine that teaches that they may lie if the lying furthers their doctrine and their agenda.
Once people agree with themselves that lying is OK, there is no hint of democracy.
Are there, "Good Muslims"? Sure there are "good Muslims!" However, none of them seem to defend any of the innocent people that are murdered by the "bad Muslims". What good is a "good Muslim", if they are perfectly willing to stand their and watch someone cut your head off, and they don't move a muscle. They don't even protest the violence?
What good is that?
In the the British crown stadium last night, shocking scene, a Leeds United fans into the stadium, Sheffield Wednesday team attacked the former England goalkeeper Chris Kirkland, lead to the latter injured lying on the ground.
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A phobia is defined as an unreasonable fear. To be afraid of Islam Is not an unreasonable fear. Muslims have declared jihad against all religions except their own ( which I don't believe is a religion but a culture). That means they intend to convert us all at the point of a sword if need be, or kill us all. To be afraid of them is the only reasonable response. Our government has sworn to protect our citizens against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The only way our government can begin to protect us from these heathens is to deny them access to our country and to expel those who are already here who are non-citizens.
You're exactly the kind of guano-crazy hypocrite that McLaren describes in this article. Thanks for setting an example!
Google: "Three things about Islam by The White Roses"
You're not really paranoid, if someone is really trying to k i l l you.
n. pl. hea·thens or heathen
a. One who adheres to the religion of a people or nation that does not acknowledge the God of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam.
faye: do you actually think about what you post or do you just blather on mindlessly?
muslims are not heathens.
faye: do you actually think about what you post or do you just blather on mindlessly?
You base YOUR blatherings upon the notion that all three of the aforementioned "gods" are one-and-the-same. Do you actually think about what you post or do you just blather on mindlessly?
Can't the same be said of Christians? Or, is their attempts to take over goverment and politics in this country somehow more benign since so many other people in this country are Christian?
For those who do not share their political views, the difference isn;t that clear.
What Jesus and Muhammad clearly foretold here (=John 6/27, 40) (=Quran 61/6)
has thus absolutely come True now!
****UNIVERSAL MAGNIFICENT MIRACLES!
Dear Human race
What is the most, stastically proven oppresive violent religion on your planet in the last 10yrs? run the numbers, show me the stats. I don't care about the past I wanna know in the year 2012
@sam stone maybe this will make it easier for you....."how do you make the logical leap from a creator to a god?"
Try a google search on "Necessary Being". Here's a sample excerpt for your amusement:
Adhering to the principal of sufficient reason, then for any single cause, there should be a previous cause, and for that cause, a cause previous, and so on. This would create an infinite regress, which, while not actually unacceptable in itself, is not handy when attempting to prove the existence of God. If we take it that every result is dependent for its existence upon its cause, then by logic, the causes would stretch back (the word "back" is used loosely) ad infinitum to a limit that would have to be the Ultimate Cause, or Necessary Being. This Necessary Being is by definition self-caused, and can depend upon, for its existence, nothing but itself. To make this seeming leap from infinite regress to beyond the end of infinity, it is necessary to have some concept of actual infinity and its limits, and "Higher Space" (often called space-time or n- dimensional space).
how does this "necessary being" imply the existence of a heaven or a hell?
@sam stone "how does this "necessary being" imply the existence of a heaven or a hell?"
Did you read the question that I responded to? I didn't think so....
i did. but i did not quite understand it
@sam stone: Before a friend started going to AA, he saw plenty of pink elephants. Does that mean they were real, Still Blind?
Ah it's my good friend Mr. Sam Stone which I had discussions with before. Mr. Stone, I know all things for which you believe in must appeal to one or more of your 5 senses. There needs to be some kind of concrete proof before anything can exist in your concept of the world. Anything not fitting this criteria will simply be brushed aside as not exisitng through your own rationalzations.
The one thing I fail to understand Mr. Stone is that since you have convinced yourself beyond a reasonable doubt that God doesn't exist why do contend with people who don't share your sentiment. Are you trying to convince them that you have all the answers and these folks who believe in God are simply misguided fools that need to be straightened out? Or is that you simply just like to show off what you consider to be a robust sense of intellectualism? Whatever your reasoning is, one thing is perfectly clear to me. It is you Mr. Stone who is blind. For you are like a child born blind having never known the color yellow or have any concept of what yellow looks like. No matter how much me or any of my brethen attempt to make you understand the color yellow, you will never be able to truly understand. For the concept is beyond your ablity to comprehend.
Now before you make some knee-jerk response take a moment and think about this question. If you were indeed truly in that place where you were born blind would that mean the color yellow didn't exist. After all you can't see it and none of your other 4 senses can testify to the existence of yellow. However, everyone around you say it does exist and it's beautiful. What would you do? Would you then have to BELIEVE that YELLOW exists?
One last thing to consider Mr. Stone, YELLOW in the Bible symbolizes the Glory of God. May this richly bless you Mr. Stone and I pray one day your eyes will open so you can see the beauty found in YELLOW for yourself.
I don't recognize the screen name, so your conversations with me must have been under another.
Claim I am blind all you want. Whatever makes your life worth living.
I do not have all the answers, nor do I claim to
I could very well be wrong about my views
Are you humble enough to say the same, or do you claim to "have all the answers"?
Mr. Stone. It was many months ago that we conversed so it is not surprising that you don't recall my screen name. Let me address your question concerning me having all the answers. In the scheme of things I am simply a no good foolish screw-up who is sinner that if it weren't Christ within me I would be nothing. I don't possess all the answers and really what answers I do possess could be easily be up for debate by anyone.
That aside Mr. Stone, I noticed you didn't respond to my question I posed to you. Perhaps you would be so kind to do so.
okay, i will answer your question, then you answer one of mine
in the scenario you described about a blind person being told about yellow, I suppose the blind person would believe that yellow exists.
now, my question. i have asked many times on these forums, but the pious have never answered....
why does the idea of a creator have to imply a heaven or a hell?
I suppose the argument could be made that you are as blind as you claim I am. After all, you reject all gods except one, don't you?
You are blind to Jah, Baal, Flying Spaghetti Monster, etc....right?
"The one thing I fail to understand Mr. Stone is that since you have convinced yourself beyond a reasonable doubt that God doesn't exist"
Don't be so hard on yourself. I am sure there are many things you fail to understand.
I don't know whether god exists (or not). I do know that arguments put forth for god's existence are unconvincing. To me, god's existence is an entirely personal matter, and one person's view is not relevant to anyone else. I also know that expecting people to be able to have any feelings (fear, love, hate) toward a being in which they do not believe is absurd.
so, are you going to answer my question?
Lastly, I do not consider all who believe in god to be misguided fools. I simply do not agree with them. That being said, I find some who do believe to be pompous fools
i am in a relationship with a woman who believes in god. I have no issue with that.
I have relatives and friends who believe in god. I have no issue with them.
i do have an issue with those who use their beliefs to deny others their civil rights
I look forward to your answer, Risen.
@sam stone: so, are you going to answer my question?
I see that while I was taking a lunch break you made several posts in my absence. I wasn't ignoring your question but rather I was unavailable to answer it.
It's not islamaphobia because it's true,especially inthis pace in time when we are aware of musslim atrocities goblally.
i did answer your question. now answer mine
On lunch again?
still waiting on an answer
@sam stone: now, my question. i have asked many times on these forums, but the pious have never answered....
You raise a very good question which I am sure many people of faith have struggled to answer to your satisfaction. Now I don't consider myself pious be any stretch of the imagination but I will attempt to provide an answer that may or may not meet with your approval.
Why does the idea of a creator have to imply a heaven or a hell?
This question is like asking why temperature implies hot and cold. As with temperature there are there two absolute states which you can be in concerning God when you leave this life. You can be in His presence or you can be separated from His presence. The issue is we have no idea what a world would be like without God. Imagine a place without morality, without a sense of compassion, without love, without mercy, without any of things we humans not only desire but need in order to function or even survive. If take a human being and deprive them of all the things which I have mentioned they will die a slow agonizing death. This is the essence of Heaven and Hell. There are those who desire a life after this one which is eternal and absent of any sickness or sorrow and want to be in the Lord's presence continually. This is Heaven. There are also those who desire to live their life without the Lord not desiring anything He has to offer them and are given that desire through the Lord separating Himself from them and leaving their soul to be tormented continually by that choice and all things that led them to that place. This is Hell. So as you can see Mr. Stone the reason Heaven and Hell are implied with God is because it relates to your relationship with Him after this life has come to an end.
So basically Mr. Stone, in your views which you are so convinced of you are saying these things. I want to be eternally separated from God because after all He doesn't exist in my mind. Let me suffer the torment of my decision for all time because after all I don't want to be accountable to no God but only to myself.
See Mr. Stone the thing you fail to realize is God doesn't owe you explanation for anything. Nor does your disbelief in God save you from His judgment at the end of your life. For we all have been poisoned by sin and are dying each and every day and that death can come at any second. The question you need to answer is are you so sure that if faced with death, would you welcome it because of assurances you have in faith or fear it because of the unknown nature found in its eternal blackness due to having no such assurance.
Mr. Stone, unlike some people here on this blog I do care about you and I care about what happens to you. Just as the woman you mentioned having a relationship with loves you with all of her heart and cares about you so very much. I do as well. For I have the heart of my Father in Heaven, I don't want to see any perish but rather all to have eternal life.
This is my purpose for engaging you here and now.
Congratulations, Risen. You have danced around it and not answered the question. The question is
'how does a creator imply a heaven or a hell". I did not say "how does a god imply a heaven or hell?"
And, perhaps my disbelief will not mean I will not be judged, but it does mean I cannot fear it.
Can you fear retaliation from a being in which you do not believe?
If not, why do you feel others can?
I look forward to your answer. Frankly, based on your last answer, it is only for amusement
maybe this will make it easier for you....."how do you make the logical leap from a creator to a god?"
also, hot and cold are measurable. heaven, hell and god are not
LOL! Well it seems my answer didn't meet with your approval not surprising to me. You completely missed the fact I did answer your question but that's neither here nor there. Let's talk about this point you just made.
@sam stone: Can you fear retaliation from a being in which you do not believe?
Okay that's a fair question. So let me give you an answer in the form of an example. Let's say I am foolishness enough to not believe in gravity even though there is so much proof of it existing and everyone tells it really exists. So given your asseration I should be able to jump off a 50 story building and have nothing to fear because after all I don't believe in gravity so how could it possibly affect me. That is until I slam into the pavement and splatter all over the ground dying instantly.
The same holds true of God. All you are waiting for now Mr. Stone is to meet the pavement and find out first hand if you right about your assertation. I personally hope you packed a parachute called Salavtion and so can pull the rip cord before then. Only time will tell though.
a simple yes or now answer would have sufficed
now that you have taken it further, gravity (like hot and cold) is measurable
god is not
Well, i got to go. Thanks for the entertainment, Risen.
@sam stone: maybe this will make it easier for you....."how do you make the logical leap from a creator to a god?"
Mr. Stone you really should consider a career in comedy because you are quite comical with the things you say. I am laughing right now I as right this post.
How do you make the logical leap from a creator to a god?
Okay well I thought that was rather obivous but maybe not. So if your creator is not God then who would your creator be? Aliens? Primordial Ooze? Mickey Mouse? Oh wait... maybe it's the Acme Company from Looney Toons. Hey I might be on to something here.
Seriously though, really Mr. Stone? If God isn't the same as the Creator perhaps you could enlighten about this creator you speak of. I would love to learn more and assurdly you should be able to provide plenty of details. Or at least I hope you would.
@sam stone: Well, i got to go. Thanks for the entertainment, Risen
I am glad to be of service Mr. Stone. It was truly great speaking with you. Perhaps another time and topic.
the point is, you seem to think that a creator cannot simply be a creator. in your mind, it has to be a being that watches over man and judges man's action. sort of a spiritual non-sequitor
and you still have not answered the question of how you expect that people can fear a being in which they do not believe.
if you want to be condescending to my opinion, and laugh and belittle it, feel free
your argument is full of conjecture
go home, boy, and get your shinebox
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